Back in the early part of the 2000s about a dozen local guys were always throwing Frisbees. They’d say, “I can hit that tree in X throws” and some got into Ultimate Frisbee in college.
Then the group learned about disc golf, planting the seed that today is Whispering Falls Disc Golf Course, which has been part of Antrim Township Community Park for 10 years.
Disc golf is similar to regular golf since “the object of the game is to get an object into a target in the fewest tries,” according to a sign at the park. In this case, the object is a flying disc and the target is a special basket.
The initial group included brothers Brad and Tim Lescalleet of State Line, who also got their father, Greg, interested in the game.
“My family jumps into things with both feet,” said Brad Lescalleet, now the primary contact for the course.
Antrim Township Community Park was in its early days when they approached the township about the possibility of installing a disc golf course. They were met with open arms and the township provided the funding, about $10,000.
“The park committee and the township have been super supportive,” said Lescalleet.
The brothers designed most of the original 18 holes and it was a lot of work to get going. The family still does most of the maintenance on the course and some of the core group continues to help with upkeep and tournaments, according to Lescalleet, who noted they now have less time to play due to jobs and families.
There’s an annual tournament at Whispering Falls. The first one was know as “The Harvest” because of the cornfield and that’s been the name ever since.
This year’s 10th annual tournament drew 72 players and is almost as famous for its food (cooked by father Greg) as the course.
“There are more and more people I don’t know on a personal level,” said Lescalleet. “There are new people and it’s exciting.”
Disc golf is a sport that can be played by all ages and Lescalleet leads clinics for everyone from children to senior citizens.
Back in the day, the Lescalleets had to travel an hour to find a disc golf course. Now there are courses in Washington County, Maryland, and near Shippensburg, as well as at Rhodes Grove Camp and Wilson College. Membership in the Professional Disc Golf Organization stands around 99,000.
Whispering Falls was a tough course when the first 18 holes were put in. There was a lot of rain and there were little waterfalls along the trail up from Martin’s Mill Bridge Park at the far end of the course, inspiring the name.
Each “hole” has one or more places to tee off and some holes have different pars. The discs are smaller than a traditional Frisbee, but about as heavy. Just like golf has different clubs, disc golf has different discs with various “wings” (the lip on the underside). The driver is the most aerodynamic, while the discs with bigger wings fly slower and straighter until you get to ones that are like a pitching wedge or putter.
Players need to provide their own discs and it is possible to play with a standard Frisbee.
There also are penalties for throwing out of bounds and challenges walking parts of the course. The sign at the park warns players, for example, that hill 10 is steep and can be loose and the 400-meter walk from 12 to 13 is up hill with a deep gorge along one side.
There are 27 holes with three loops with nine holes each. Information about each hole is posted at the tee. The original 18 holes are all long and hard, but the latest nine are beginner-friendly.
It takes about an hour and a half to play nine holes and three or four hours for 18, depending on skill level.
“We have a great thing going here and the park committee and the township make it really easy to have a good time,” Lescalleet said.
“It just takes one person to fall in love with disc golf. When I started playing in 2005, I knew I was going to do it for life,” said Lescalleet, who is passing the game down to daughters, Marley, 3, Laken, 8, and Regan, who turns 6 on Wednesday. His wife, the former Cari Stayman, doesn’t play , but made the original tee signs.
The course can be found at www.facebook.com/whisperingfalls/